Saturday, March 24, 2012
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Illinois examines deer management program

Hunting regulations and CWD control efforts under review

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[March 24, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is examining its deer management program to determine if modifications are needed to hunting seasons and regulations, and to the effort focused in select northern Illinois counties to reduce the deer population and limit the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Illinois deer herd.

The review of the state's deer management program is a follow-up to implementation of a series of recommendations made in 2008 by the state's Joint Legislative Task Force on Deer Population Control.

Among the task force recommendations was a statewide 14 percent reduction in the deer herd, as indicated by the rate of deer-vehicle accidents, with specific county goals identified. The Department of Natural Resources expanded the late-winter deer season and made additional permits available in some counties, beginning in 2009, to encourage hunters to harvest additional surplus deer. The statewide accident rate is very close to the identified goal, although some counties still remain higher than desired.

The IDNR also expanded the special chronic wasting disease deer season in 2009 as part of the program begun in 2002 for surveillance and targeted herd reduction in counties where CWD had been identified.

CWD is a disease that afflicts deer by causing a degeneration of the nervous system, and fatal infections can be passed by close contact among deer.

Since 2004, IDNR has supplemented hunter harvest by using department sharpshooters each winter to reduce deer densities in known CWD hotspots in northern Illinois counties. This management approach has suppressed the rate of CWD infection in deer to very low levels.

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While the sharpshooting program is effective, budget reductions over the past decade are compelling the department to explore alternative means of reducing deer herd density in CWD counties, including changes in hunting programs, assisting local landowning agencies in their own deer herd reduction programs, and working with local hunters to increase their deer harvest on private lands.

IDNR will conduct an analysis of both deer-related programs during the coming months and will provide opportunity for public comment on management goals.

For more information on Illinois deer management, deer hunting and chronic wasting disease, visit the IDNR website at

[Text from Illinois Department of Natural Resources file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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